6. She Knows
"Kuwabara . . . don't you think it might be a good idea to postpone the picnic? It seems very cloudy this morning. It might rain."
"No! We have to do it today, Kurama. Trust me!"
"Well . . . if you insist."
"Thanks," he said gratefully. "And call Yusuke and the others to make sure they come, okay?"
"Okay, I have to run. I'll see you there in half an hour!"
Kurama hung up with some misgivings. Kuwabara had planned a picnic on a large, grassy hill in the vast wilderness of the "backyard" of Genkai's temple. Everyone – that is to say, Kurama, Yusuke, Keiko, Botan, Shizuru, Hiei, and of course, Yukina – had been invited. Koenma had received an invitation as well, but the demi-god was busy as always and had regretfully declined it.
Kurama wasn't certain what was going to happen at the picnic, but he knew Kuwabara had something special planned. At any rate, the way the sky was looking, he would be lucky if they even had the picnic . . . though Kuwabara definitely seemed determined to go through with it.
The phone rang, interrupting his train of thought.
"Kurama!" It was Yusuke.
"Do you expect us all to sit in the rain and have a picnic?" he demanded.
"You have to come, Yusuke," he said firmly. "Kuwabara has something special planned for Yukina, and everyone has to be there. He's counting on you." He heard Yusuke's "ch" of frustration and disgust. "For that matter, so is Yukina."
Yusuke sighed. It was much more difficult for him to let Yukina down, and Kurama knew it. Sneaky bastard.
"Are Keiko and Botan at your house? They have to come, too."
Another sigh. "All right. I don't think Yukina's going to see anything romantic in getting soaked, though. If you ask me, Kuwabara's finally cracked."
"I would agree," another voice said contemptuously.
Kurama spun around, still holding the phone to his ear. Hiei was standing next to him.
"What was that?" Yusuke asked. "Is someone there with you?"
"Hiei," said Kurama. "Look, Yusuke, I have to go. Make sure that everyone shows up, okay? Okay, bye." He hung up.
"You have to admit Yusuke has a point," Hiei advanced. "Even that idiot must be able to tell that it's going to rain, and frankly, that doesn't seem like a very good setting for a date. You should realize that, Kurama."
Kurama pressed his lips together into a thin line. "It's just one of those sudden summer showers. Those are usually over fairly quickly."
Hiei snorted. "Supposing that we do go through with this, what is the point? What do we do?"
"That should be fairly obvious," Kurama replied sharply. His patience was wearing thin, what with Hiei's snide remarks, and Kuwabara's mysterious plans and stubbornness. "We'll eat lunch and make small talk."
Hiei snorted again, but Kurama didn't expect that the idea of making small talk would ever appeal to him. "Where's the lunch, then?"
"I didn't make it. Kuwabara did, with some help from Shizuru."
Hiei opened his mouth, predictably for another cutting retort, but then Yukina entered the room.
"It's going to rain," she said worriedly.
"It'll be all right," Kurama said, smiling bravely. He glanced at his watch. "It's nearly time. They're not coming to the temple. Yusuke and the others will be heading straight to the hill. We should go."
The three of them walked outside, but as soon as they did, fat drops began splattering on the ground. Hiei cast a dark look at Kurama, which he pointedly ignored. Oh. This was looking worse than he thought it'd be.
"I still think we should call it off," Hiei scoffed, looking at the shimmering rain and gray sky with distaste.
Yukina spoke up before Kurama could say anything.
"No, please don't let us down, Hiei."
Hiei twitched. He couldn't refuse Yukina anything. "Fine," he said flatly. "Do you have any umbrellas?"
"Actually, I'm not sure where they are," Kurama confessed. He reached into his hair. "But we'll be much better off with these."
At his touch, the three seeds he had pulled from his hair sprouted into huge daisy-like flowers, with multiple overlapping layers of broad petals. The thick stems served as handles. All in all, they were very good umbrella substitutes.
They went out to the hill in question, each clutching a Makai daisy. About ten minutes after they got there, Yusuke and the girls dashed over.
The rain was, as Kurama correctly surmised, an abrupt summer shower that ended right after Yusuke's party arrived. As the sky cleared to become a translucent pale blue, Kuwabara showed up, holding a large picnic basket; alongside Shizuru, who likewise held a bundle.
"About time," Hiei muttered.
"Sorry, everyone," Kuwabara apologized. "But I couldn't move the date, and well, it's not so bad after all, is it?"
Shizuru's bundle turned out to be a thick checkered cloth, which she spread out over the ground. They all settled themselves obligingly on it. Kuwabara began pulling containers out of the picnic basket and placing them on the cloth, naming them as he went.
"This is sushi . . . here's the rice . . . sodas . . . teriyaki . . . noodles . . . deviled eggs . . . cake . . . oh, and here's salmon. I cooked it especially for you, Yukina, because it's what you ate on our first date." He looked earnestly at her.
"Oh, Kazuma . . ." She nibbled at it. "It tastes even better than the one in the restaurant!"
Yusuke's eyebrows had shot up into his hairline. "Did you really make all this, Kuwabara?"
"Uh, well, I had a little help from Shizuru."
"Very little help," Shizuru said amusedly. "He spent the week before this preparing all these different dishes, mostly by himself."
Yusuke whistled softly.
"Now, why can't you be like that?" Keiko asked accusingly. Yusuke grinned sheepishly.
"Who would have thought our Kuwabara could be so accomplished?" Botan chimed in. She remembered when Kuwabara had proposed to her, and she thought it was immensely sweet that he was now courting Yukina.
Everyone tore into the food with great gusto. Hiei grudgingly conceded that it was "edible" and ended up eating more than most of them.
"Look, there's a rainbow!" Botan pointed over the mountains, which were beyond the forest in front of their hill.
"See, it wasn't such a bad idea to come out in the rain after all," Yukina said mildly, smiling at Kurama and Hiei.
They chatted pleasantly; no one could recall the last time they had had so much fun together.
"So, Hiei," Yusuke asked, stuffing his mouth with deviled egg, yolk all over his upper lip, "what have you been doing in Makai?"
"He hasn't had much to do, considering the amount of time he's been lurking around the temple and pestering me," Kurama murmured blandly, an innocent look on his face.
Hiei shot a venomous glare at Kurama.
"I expect he'd be doing the usual, though, what little time he does spend there . . . picking up lost humans, holding tedious meetings with other officials and noblemen . . . screwing Mukuro . . ."
Yusuke nearly choked on his egg, he was laughing so much. Keiko thumped him fiercely on the back, shouting, "Serves you right for putting so much in your mouth, you greedy pig!"
Hiei spat out all the soda he had just drank, and his face was unaccountably red. "I – never – with Mukuro -,"
"Ooh, someone's blushing!" Botan teased.
But perhaps the best remark was made by Yukina: "Oh, Hiei-san – is it love?"
The innocence of her question sent everyone else into hysterics.
Hiei stood up. "I don't have to take this," he hissed.
"Leaving, Hiei?" Shizuru rolled her eyes. "Don't be so sensitive. Sit down."
"Hiei -," Yukina began, understanding that she had somehow hurt her brother.
But it was Kuwabara who came to the rescue. "There wasn't any harm meant. Don't go – please – Hiei."
Hiei looked as if he couldn't believe his ears. Very likely Kuwabara had never addressed him so politely before.
"Very well," he ground out, and sat down with ill grace.
There would have been an awkward tension, except that Yukina immediately broke it by crying and pointing, "Look, there's an airplane writing something!"
Ever since Kurama had explained to her that the reason why some airplanes left trails in the sky was because water vapor crystallized on the tail end of their gases, Yukina had been fascinated by the phenomenon. It was a mirror of her own ice-writing abilities.
The airplane looped and soared underneath the rainbow, so that its words were framed by the colorful bands.
"What does it say?" Yusuke asked. He stood up to get a better view, and everyone followed suit.
They all watched, enthralled for several minutes, until Yukina exclaimed, "It says, 'I love you, Yukina'!"
All fell quiet. Everyone grinned at Kuwabara.
"So that was why you had to have us here this morning," Kurama remarked.
"I'd already hired the guy for this time," Kuwabara said, who had walked out quite a distance to ascertain that the pilot was doing a good job, and that his money hadn't been wasted. "I couldn't back out."
Keiko muttered something to Yusuke about "never as romantic as that."
Everyone, including Hiei, looked at Kuwabara, considerably impressed.
"You put so much thought and effort into this," Botan marveled.
"Thanks," he said. But he only had eyes for Yukina.
She walked over to him slowly. No one said anything, but all of them smiled as they watched her approach – even Hiei.
"I think I know what love is."
She reached up on tiptoe to kiss him; they overbalanced and fell, she on top of him. They lay kissing on the rain-soaked grass, in the fresh damp air, under the open sky.
When they broke apart, Kuwabara looked up at Yukina, both of them smiling and slightly breathless. His heart sang.
"Yeah, I think you do."
A/N: I'm a sucker for fluff and happy endings. I rarely write multi-chaptered fics, but I found this really rewarding. I hope everyone liked it!
I have never yet encountered an author who didn't like reviews. Including myself.